Smart LED Light Reviews- Philips Hue, XiaoMi, Lifx, GE C-Life, Wiz
- Jul 27, 2018
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Adding a set of smart light bulbs is an easy way to get started building a smart-home system. But it doesn’t mean your bulbs can answer pub quiz questions. No, they’re smart because they’re no longer restricted to just on and off, controlled by the nearby switch.
The smart light bulb will react more slowly than a traditional wired light bulb. Using an app and a WiFi connection to control the bulb introduces a tiny bit of lag versus flipping a switch wired directly to the bulb. These delays can run anywhere from one to five seconds, depending on your system.
We reviewed 5 popular brands of smart LED light bulb to help readers find the best options for their own, including Philips Hue, XiaoMi, Lifx, GE C-Life, Wiz.
1. Philips Hue
If you want your lights to be smart, Philips Hue is the best way to go. The lights are reliable, long-lasting and beautifully made. The basic kit includes three bulbs (screw fit, though a kit with bayonet fit bulbs is also available) and a bridge that links the bulbs to your smartphone or other controller. The three distinctively-styled bulbs can shine in any of 16 million colours, though you’ll probably find the half-dozen you most like quite quickly. Change the colour on the smartphone app.
Hue bulbs come with a wide range of fittings, including A19, B22, BR30, E12, E14, E27 and GU10.
If you find that your current light fittings do not support any of the above options, then you can swap out the connections without too much effort or expense - although, naturally, this will depend on the size of your house.
You can control Philips Hue with your voice if you have Amazon Alexa in your home, and it’s also compatible with Apple HomeKit and Google Home – voice control is possible with all three. Versatile, simple and highly effective.
2. XiaoMi Yeelight
One of the main selling points about the Yeelight LED bulbs is that they don't require a hub to connect to your Wi-Fi network, unlike Philips Hue. Just hook up the bulbs to an E27 (or E26) socket, and install the Yeelight app to connect the bulbs to your home Wi-Fi network.
The Yeelight LED bulb is a great alternative to Philips Hue. It features 16 million colors RGB light and 1700-6500K adjustable white light, offering you the most wonderful ambient lighting. The price is adorable, 29$.
Like Hue, you'll be able to control the Yeelight LED bulbs through Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. Yi Technology rolled out the integration last year, and you will be able to pair the bulbs with an Echo or Google Home with ease and control the lights by issuing voice commands.
3. Lifx Smart Light Bulb
Although a relative newcomer to the smart light business, Lifx is seen as one of Philips' biggest rivals. Lifx bulbs generally cost more than the equivalent Hue - up to $80 per bulb in some cases - but they are go brighter and the Lifx+ range emit invisible infrared light at night, helping to boost the view from your night vision security cameras.
Another bonus for the Lifx system is that the bulbs do not use a hub. Instead, they connect directly to your router.
Like Philips, Lifx offers its bulbs with a wide range of fittings, including A19, BR30, E26, E27, B22 and GU10. Lifx also sells LED light strips for creating mood lighting and the Tile and Beam, two products designed to sit on your falls like illuminated piece of abstract artwork.
We tried several, and the latest model, the LIFX Gen 3 was easily the next favorite. For one, it’s brighter than the previous-generation LIFX Color 1000, measuring 1,165 lux from the top at its brightest setting compared with Hue’s 400 lux. The LIFX also outshined Hue in side brightness at 360 lux.
4. GE C-Lif
The entry-level GE C-Life smart bulb (which can often be found for $10 to $15) gives you the most brightness for your bucks. It puts out 610 lux from the top and 350 lux from the side, making it brighter than any bulbs except the LIFX (which cost several times more). The C-Life sports a frosted glass globe, which helps give the light a soft glow.
GE discontinued its previous Link line of bulbs, which connected using Zigbee, in favor of the new C family. C-Life bulbs connect via Bluetooth, making them easy to connect and control from your smartphone, tablet, or computer, but which also means you can’t control them when you’re away from home or—given Bluetooth’s limited range—even if you’re on a separate floor of the home.
Like Lifx, smart bulbs by Wiz connect directly to your Wi-Fi and do not use a separate hub or bridge like the Hue system does. If you already have a smart hub installed, then you can connect Wiz bulbs to it using IFTTT or Conrad Connect — this is also how you hook up Wiz bulbs to devices like the Nest smart thermostat.
GearBrain recently reviewed the Wz starter set and was impressed by how many IFTTT applets are available. Our favorites included one which turns all lights on when an intruder is detected at night, and one which will turn your lights (or one light) a certain color when your favorite TV show is about to start.
Another cool feature if Wiz lights is vacation mode, which is selected from the system's smartphone app. This switches the lights on and off i patterns which resemble there being people at home, which should go some way to deterring burglars.
Wiz smart lights can be controlled with their companion smartphone app, voice commands to Alexa and Google Assistant, or with an infrared remote control. The latter might seem old fashioned, but it has buttons for assigning favorite colors or setups to each room; for less tech-savvy members of the household, pressing a button will likely be easier than opening the Wiz phone app or speaking to Alexa.
A final party tricks if how Wiz can make your old switches smarter, by essentially letting them control two different lighting modes. Once set up, accessing the first lighting mode is done by flicking the switch on — but flick it off and on again with five seconds, and the lights will change to mode two.
Wiz bulb connections include the E26 and BR30 standards, plus the company sells a range of smart table lamps.
* Special Art Bulb - E.P.LIGHT
Comprised of a team of visual artists, designers, and creatives, E.P. Light is passionate about bringing beauty and creative energy to every home and office. Their collection of mesmerizing, LED light fixtures feature strong creative influences from legendary artist Jackson Pollock— resulting in a gorgeous and unique piece of ambient lighting that will transform your space with abstract expressionist style.